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New Japanese Game Labels Enemies As "Immigrants"

[Image via PlayStation]
[Image via PlayStation]
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

As pointed out on NeoGAF, the invading giant ants and spiders in Earth Defense Force 5 are called “immigrants.”

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With the recent refugee crisis and anti-immigrant attitudes worldwide, this might not be the best word choice. It’s understandable why people outside Japan might wonder about this naming.

Illustration for article titled New Japanese Game Labels Enemies As Immigrantsem/em
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It’s also understandable that Japanese game developers might not have the best grasp on English-language nuances.

Illustration for article titled New Japanese Game Labels Enemies As Immigrantsem/em

Then again, if you’ve been following Japanese news coverage, you’ll know that the Japanese word imin (移民), meaning “immigrant” (though, it can also mean “emigrant” as well as “settler”) has been used in regards to what’s been happening in Europe and the United States. Here’s how the Google Image results look for the word:

[Image via Google]
[Image via Google]
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The word “nanmin” (難民) has also appeared in the news recently. Imin (immigrant) and nanmin (refugee) obviously have different meanings in Japanese like they do in English.

The text at the top reads “alien civilization” (異星文明 or isei bunmei). The text blew that is “immigrant.” [Photo: Famitsu]
The text at the top reads “alien civilization” (異星文明 or isei bunmei). The text blew that is “immigrant.” [Photo: Famitsu]
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It’s worth noting that according to a 2015 Asahi Shimbun poll of around 2,000 Japanese citizens, 51 percent supported expanding immigration, while 34 percent said they did not. (You can read more here.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that when Japanese people hear “immigrant” (イミグラント or imiguranto), many people will not know what it means, because it’s not a well-known English word. Have a look at its Google Image results:

[Image via Google]
[Image via Google]
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That’s why Japanese players might associate it with these enemies instead of, you know, actual immigrants.

The Immigrant enemies. [Photo: Famitsu]
The Immigrant enemies. [Photo: Famitsu]
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In a recent article, Japanese game site Famitsu explained the meaning to readers, writing, “The name of the extra terrestrials this time around is ‘Immigrant.’ In Japanese, that means imin (移民), and these life-forms are planning to immigrate on Earth.”

This isn’t exactly new to EDF. As NeoGAF notes, Earth Defense Force 3 and EDF 4 called the enemies “foreigner” (フォーリナー or “foorinaa”).

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[Image: Official Site via Wayback Machine]
[Image: Official Site via Wayback Machine]

They were localized as “The Ravagers” in English.

Illustration for article titled New Japanese Game Labels Enemies As Immigrantsem/em
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Likewise, “Immigrant” will probably get another name in English with less baggage.

In case you missed it, check out Kotaku’s Earth Defense 5 impressions from the Tokyo Game Show.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

NeroAngelo2
NeroAngelo

I guess they thought it out to be a play on the word “Ant”.

but other than Americans, I don’t see how anyone would be offended by it.